Scottish free care costs under scrutiny

The Scottish executive is seriously
underestimating the cost of introducing free personal care, claims
a new report.

The Care Development Group, which drew up the proposals for the
executive, did not, says the study make enough provision for the
potential demand for free personal care in their financial
estimates. The group costs free care at £125m in year one to
double that in year 20.

But the independent economic analysis, published last week in
the Journal of the Institute of Chartered Finance and
Accountancy, states that there might soon be 118,000 older people
looking for care in Scotland. This could swell the costs of
implementing the Royal Commission on Long Term Care’s
recommendations to £368m after three years.

The report, drawn up by Dr Jim Cuthbert, a former Scottish
Office chief statistician, and Margaret Cuthbert, an economist and
business consultant, claims that the discrepancy in costs is so
huge that “the Scottish executive could well find itself in a
position where it is either under pressure to implement the
Scottish flexibility on income tax or to re-open with Westminster
the whole question of the funding of the Scottish parliament”.

It adds that CDG figures underestimate personal care costs by
£35 per individual per week.

A Scottish executive spokesperson said first minister Jack
McConnell wants to see financial projections to check the means by
which the proposals are being financed.

Meanwhile, the free personal care proposals have been formally
supported by the influential health committee of the Scottish
parliament which wants a definition of free personal care laid down
explicitly in statute.

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